Chiefs backed off due to health concerns

Updated: March 7, 2005, 7:53 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Cornerback Samari Rolle agreed to a six-year contract Monday with the Baltimore Ravens, who last week lost Gary Baxter to the Cleveland Browns.

Samari Rolle
Cornerback
Tennessee Titans
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
28 28 0 0 0 1

Rolle was a 2000 Pro Bowl selection with the Tennessee Titans. He also had been pursued by the Kansas City Chiefs, but their interest cooled because of health concerns.

Rolle, considered one of the league's best coverage cornerbacks, agreed to a six-year, $30.5 million contract that included an $11 million signing bonus, ESPN.com's John Clayton reported. Rolle will receive $12 million in the first year of the contract and $18 million over the first three years of the deal.

Rolle wants to form the top cornerback tandem in the NFL with All-Pro Chris McAlister.

"I think we'll be No. 1 if we handle our business," Rolle said. "Chris is an All-Pro. He's getting better every year. I feel like I'm entering my prime. I think we can match up against anybody."

Rolle is known for his speed and good hands.

"When I think about the great defenses, they always have two guys who can cover on the outside," Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "I think right now we can take our tandem of Samari and Chris McAlister and match up with anybody in the league as far as their ability to cover. It's going to be huge."

Like new Ravens receiver Derrick Mason, Rolle was a salary-cap casualty before the free-agent signing period in Tennessee.

In 2000, Rolle intercepted seven passes to anchor a Titans defense that went 13-3 and lost in the AFC divisional round to the Ravens. Rolle was limited to a career-low 12 games last season because of an injured left knee that has required arthroscopic surgery. He finished with just one interception and 28 tackles.

He'll replace Baxter, last year's starting cornerback who joined the Browns after initially reaching an agreement with Baltimore. Cleveland signed him to a six-year, $30 million contract that included a $10.5 million signing bonus.

Rolle and the Ravens were dismissive of medical questions that arose during his visit to the Chiefs. Rolle was born with a spinal condition called stenosis, discovered during his physical with the Chiefs. But Rolle didn't fail his physical in Kansas City or Baltimore.

"It's the same thing I was born with," he said. "I guess [the Chiefs] might have heard I was coming here, but when I was there it never came up. It's funny how I come up here and that's all you hear."

Rolle suffered two neck and spine injuries during his seven-year stint in Tennessee.

"That is not a concern," Newsome said. "He's already been cleared medically from our standpoint."

Rolle was accompanied by his wife, Danisha, at the Ravens' training complex. Rolle was arrested last month on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge. He could face from probation to a year in prison if convicted. The next court date is April 6 in Franklin, Tenn.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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